Cougars struggle down stretch again

WSU surrendered lead in eighth inning for second straight game, allowing UCLA to complete sweep



WSU sophomore catcher Cal Waterman leans back to avoid being hit by a stray pitch during a game against Saint Mary’s on March 8 at Bailey-Brayton Field. Waterman drove in six runs in 14 starts so far this season.

RYAN BLAKE, Evergreen reporter

WSU baseball dropped the final game of a three-game series against No. 16 University of California, Los Angeles, 5-4 Sunday as the Bruins completed the sweep.

The Cougars (4-12) got out to an early lead in the second inning. Senior outfielder Blake Clanton and senior first baseman James Rudkin each singled to begin the inning. A sacrifice bunt by senior outfielder JJ Hancock moved them to second and third base before freshman infielder Jack Smith grounded out to score Clanton and give WSU a 1-0 lead.

Senior left-handed pitcher Cody Anderson started on the mound for WSU. He allowed four runs on nine hits in seven innings.

UCLA (13-4) took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the second. Bruins junior outfielder Daniel Amaral doubled with one out, and UCLA sophomore infielder Ryan Kreidler drove him in with a single through the right side. Kreidler advanced to second on a sacrifice fly and later scored on a single to right field by Bruins sophomore outfielder Jeremy Ydens.

Sophomore infielder Jack Stronach homered to right field in the bottom of the third to extend the UCLA lead to 3-1.

The Cougars stormed back and retook the lead in the top of the fourth inning. Junior infielder Justin Harrer led off the inning with a home run to straight away centerfield, his third this season. Rudkin followed with a single before the Bruins’ pitchers walked four straight WSU batters to give the Cougars a 4-3 lead.

Anderson settled down after the third inning and held the Bruins scoreless over the next four innings. He allowed two base runners over that stretch, while WSU still clung to a 4-3 lead heading into the eighth.

In the bottom of the eighth, Anderson allowed a leadoff single before being replaced by senior right-handed pitcher Ryan Walker. The Bruins then bunted to advance a runner to second base before Walker proceeded to load the bases with two straight walks.

Walker got the next batter to pop up to junior shortstop Andres Alvarez for the second out. Freshman infielder RJ Teijeiro then singled through the right side of the infield to bring home two runners and give the Bruins a 5-4 advantage.

WSU went quietly in the ninth as UCLA held on to complete the sweep.

Sunday was the second straight game the Cougars lost after heading into the eighth inning with a lead. They recorded 31 hits in the series but stranded 29 runners on base.

The defeat extended WSU’s losing streak to five games. It was also the second time the Cougars have lost all the games in a series on the road this season, the other time being when they lost three games in Tuscaloosa to University of Alabama.

Scoring has been a glaring issue for the Cougars as they have been outscored 98-56 by their opponents in 16 games this season.

WSU travels to Tucson to complete the final leg of its seven-game road trip for a three-game series with the University of Arizona. The series begins 6 p.m. Friday with a radio livestream available on the WSU Gameday App.